Extensive Tests and Evaluations Result In 12 Years of Safe Use

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Dietitian comments on safety of food biotechnology in new online video.

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My own professional organization – the American Dietetic Association – has come out with a stance that advocates food biotechnology and reinforces its safety

Every day, consumers make numerous decisions about the food they eat, and informed decisions require a good understanding of nutrition, food science and, sometimes, even agriculture. In a recently released online video and podcast, Dietitian Mary Lee Chin, MS, RD, describes the process of food biotechnology, as well as the safety and benefits of genetically modified foods.

“It’s not surprising to me that people are concerned about any new type of food or food production method that comes on the market,” says Chin, who has been practicing dietetics for more than 30 years. “But as a registered dietician, I can assure them that the regulatory oversight, the research and development that has gone into [food biotechnology], produces the good food that ends up on their dinner plate.”

When genetically modified crops were first introduced in the mid-1990s, most consumers were not very aware that research into biotechnology could be or was being applied to food. However, for decades, researchers had been studying how food biotechnology could safely increase productivity on the farm, as well as nutritional value on the plate.

All food biotechnology products currently available on the international market have undergone and passed these science-based safety assessments. As a result, in the last 12 years, more than 690 million hectares or 1.7 billion acres of genetically modified crops have been grown commercially with no negative effect on humans or animals.

“Food biotechnology is the new way of doing it more precisely and accurately,” comments Chin. “The old methods, you were crossing tens of thousands of genes...This way, you identify the characteristic that you want. You select the gene that provides the characteristic, and put it in the end product. And you don’t get those unwanted genes and unwanted characteristics...It’s a more efficient way of doing it, too. And to me, it’s a safer way of doing it.”

Numerous professional organizations, academic research entities and regulatory bodies worldwide have independently and extensively studied and considered all aspects of food biotechnology, with a striking congruence in their resulting conclusions and recommendations.

“My own professional organization – the American Dietetic Association – has come out with a stance that advocates food biotechnology and reinforces its safety,” explains Chin. “There are many other health professional organizations, such as the American Medical Association, then international organizations like the World Health Organization, which also support the safety of food biotechnology; and not only because of the benefit from the safety perspective, but also because of the nutritional benefits and its ability to potentially feed hungry people in the world.”

This new video about food biotechnology can be viewed, downloaded or embedded into another Web site from the Conversations about Plant Biotechnology Web site. In addition, visitors to the Web site can view videos with multiple experts about the safety of genetically modified foods, as well as the need for GM technology in developing countries to benefit subsistence farming.

The Conversations about Plant Biotechnology is designed to give a voice and a face to the farmers and families who grow GM crops and the experts who research and study the benefits of biotechnology in agriculture. The Web site contains more than 70 two- to three-minute, candid, straightforward and compelling video segments with the people who know the technology best. The Web site is hosted by Monsanto Company — a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.

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Ranjana Smetacek

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